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The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch

Right from the outset, I’m already intrigued … and I don’t even know what it’s about.

Starts off in wintery Amsterdam? I'm already hooked.

Starts off in wintery Amsterdam? I’m already hooked.

I suppose I haven’t “really” been reading for a while. I’m jumping from book to book, finishing each one, but now that I started The Goldfinch, I see what it means to take the detail, scene, and characters to the next level.

You had me at, “lights twinkling on the canal bridges at night.”

I’m such a sucker for winter wonderland scenes.

Outside, all was activity and cheer. It was Christmas, lights twinkling on the canal bridges at night; red-cheeked dames en heren, scarves flying in the icy wind, clattered down the cobblestones with Christmas trees lashed to the backs of their bicycles. In the afternoons, an amateur band played Christmas carols that hung tinny and fragile in the winter air.

But much of the book surprised me as far as the character of the hero was such a, well, downer. He tried, struggled, and plodded along, but it was painful. No, I don’t need only happy-go-lucky characters, but sheesh, heavy! Still, Donna Tartt knows how to dig deep into character, scene, place, and story.

Towards the end, there was a quote that I found moving. The author was speaking directly to the reader, even though he/she calls us non existent, but she then digs deep into her love for art and beautiful things. It was poetic and refreshing after all of the drug dealing and overdoses of much of the story.

I feel I have something very serious and urgent to say to you, my non-existent reader, and I feel I should say it as urgently as if I were standing in the room with you. That life—whatever else it is—is short. That fate is cruel but maybe not random. That Nature (meaning Death) always wins but that doesn’t mean we have to bow and grovel to it. That maybe even if we’re not always so glad to be here, it’s our task to immerse ourselves anyway: wade straight through it, right through the cesspool, while keeping eyes and hearts open. And in the midst of our dying, as we rise from the organic and sink back ignominiously into the organic, it is a glory and a privilege to love what Death doesn’t touch. For if disaster and oblivion have followed this painting down through time—so too has love. Insofar as it is immortal (and it is) I have a small, bright, immutable part in that immortality. It exists; and it keeps on existing. And I add my own love to the history of people who have loved beautiful things, and looked out for them, and pulled them from the fire, and sought them when they were lost, and tried to preserve them and save them while passing them along literally from hand to hand, singing out brilliantly from the wreck of time to the next generation of lovers, and the next.

I’m such a sucker for the description of a certain “zone” that people feel and try to explain or describe. The place where all art exists? And magic? Yeah, well, that’s where I want to be. Where do I sign up?

And as much as I’d like to believe there’s a truth beyond illusion, I’ve come to believe that there’s no truth beyond illusion. Because, between ‘reality’ on the one hand, and the point where the mind strikes reality, there’s a middle zone, a rainbow edge where beauty comes into being, where two very different surfaces mingle and blur to provide what life does not: and this is the space where all art exists, and all magic.

Finally, kinda crazy, but I have no idea what the main character’s name is!


  1. John Muldoon

    I was just about to start this book. Now I’m extra excited.

    • Bradley

      It has its ups and downs and it rather long, but a great read in the end!


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